4.1 Virtual acoustics and heritage: Re-sounding Falkland

The creative application of auralisation in heritage, however, continues to be a key application area for our virtual acoustics research. Re-sounding Falkland (Chapman and Wilson 2011), was a collaboration with artists David Chapman, Louise K. Wilson and the Falkland Estate, Scotland, to explore how sound can be used to understand and interpret the history of existing landscapes.

This project resulted in a number of artistic outputs, sound-based works - including a downloadable audiowalk to guide visitors through parts of the estate - installations and events. Acoustic surveys were completed for unusual or less well-known features of the estate and surrounding landscape and the measurements obtained were then used, through analysis, to inform the artists' creative process, or directly, through auralisation, to produce new sound experiences. The sound of the waterfall cascades through the grounds of the House of Falkland were recorded and analysed, and a number of buildings were measured acoustically. These included the Tyndall Bruce Monument, a tall stone tower on a steep wooded path offering magnificent views over the estate, which is, however, less well known and less accessible to the visitor than many of the estate's other features. The Bottle Dungeon is another inaccessible space, a subterranean bottle-shaped prison accessed via a trap door and narrow opening, leading to the wider open cell below. The entrance to the Bottle Dungeon can now be found under a carpet in the administrator's office near the entrance to Falkland Palace. The acoustics of the semi-open and highly sound-reflecting Falkland Real Tennis court - the oldest in the world still in use - were also captured.

The most significant challenge, however, was to create a 3D model and auralisation of the Temple of Decision, a now-ruined structure on a hill overlooking the estate. Little is known about this 19th-century folly, and although some documentary evidence exits, including photographs and drawings, no detailed plan could be sourced despite extensive research. The acoustic reconstruction was therefore informed by what could be discerned from the ruins that remain, the fragments of evidence that could be found, and what is known about the construction of similar buildings. This process of research and reconstruction was documented and reflected upon in the video installation The Temple of Decision (Figure 24), which includes the final auralisations produced from the 3D model. Perhaps the most notable aspect of this artistic work is not necessarily the final outcome – the model and accompanying auralisation – but the process by which this outcome has been determined, and the artists' personal experience of both the tangible and intangible aspects of this heritage landscape.

Figure 24: (VIDEO) Temple of Decision is a video installation that investigated the ruin of the Falkland Estate's 19th-century folly, part of which uses auralisation to recreate the acoustics of the building when still intact. The artists David Chapman and Louise K. Wilson voice their thoughts on visiting the Temple and on the stories they heard about the building and its uses. (Video © David Chapman and Louise K. Wilson 2010, used with permission 2016)


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